Traveling during the holidays can be challenging, especially with an elderly passenger in tow. This is not to say that all older travelers are a burden, but if your loved one has difficulty getting around at home or requires a high level of care, maneuvering through an airport or a long car ride can be taxing on everyone involved.
Make sure you’re ready for your trip by following these tips that ensure the journey is smooth for you and your older travel companions.
Agree on your expectations
- You might not find walking from the gate to your terminal or sitting in the car for four hours to be a big deal, but this could prove a significant challenge for older adults. Ask your loved one if they would prefer to be transported in a wheelchair (most airports have them readily available), and plan out frequent stops if you have a long drive ahead.
- Try not to fill your itinerary to the brim with activities. Older adults will typically need to rest during the day, and might not feel comfortable staying up past their typical bedtime, so try to be considerate.
- Discuss the trip in detail with them before you leave, including how long you will be traveling for, what stops you will be making, if any, and other logistics so that everyone is on the same page.
Prepare for the unexpected
- If your loved one is on medications, make sure that they are placed in their original containers, in a clear bag that is easily accessible. Also, be sure to have the phone number for their doctors readily available.
- Make copies of any important paperwork, including health insurance information, passports and other IDs, etc.—a copy for their luggage, your luggage, and one to leave with a friend or relative at home.
- Consider taking out travel insurance as a precaution, to ensure any mishaps during your journey don’t become even more worrisome down the road.
Make the most of the trip
- If your loved one isn’t able to travel very often, make this experience a memorable one by making a stop at a special attraction along the way, or simply asking them if there is anything in particular that they would like to see or do.
- Be sure to document your trip and take plenty of photos so you can enjoy in the weeks and months after. You can even help them turn the photos into a scrapbook of your journey!
- When problems arise, be mindful not to become too upset with your loved one. You both are doing the best that you can to make the trip enjoyable, so try your best to practice consideration and patience with them.